Nebraska's victory over Kansas State certainly impressed not only many of the national pundits, but also the computer rankings. The computers did not respect the non-conference schedule Steve Pederson set up before being fired. Last month, Sagarin still had Nebraska ranked in the thirties. But after Washington upset USC, the computers started to show Nebraska a little respect...and this game vaulted the Huskers up to sixth in Sagarin, and up to eight in the Massey rankings. It's a little too early to get too concerned about the rankings, but in the end, things generally have a way of working themselves out. As Alabama showed us this weekend, upsets are going to happen, and many of these undefeated teams won't be when it comes time to set the pairings in December.
But until then, you can only worry about what your team does. And while Nebraska's performance was impressive, it wasn't perfect. Here's our report card; as always, your feedback is welcome below!
QB: Taylor Martinez shook off the mistakes and rebounded with a strong performance. Speed kills, and in this case, it was fatal to the Wildcats who could only watch as he flew by. Martinez's performance is tough to grade, because Martinez makes more plays with his legs than any other quarterback I've ever seen. He accelerates like nobody else I can recall, and if the secondary doesn't contain him before he hits his stride, it's a touchdown from anywhere on the field. And he just keeps doing it week after week. Heisman worth? Let's rest that talk for one more week, because while he had those highlight reel runs, he also had a few plays where his freshman inexperience showed up. A fumble, an underthrown pass, a couple of plays where he ran the wrong way, and a some misreads. So while he has those plays that frankly rate off the charts, he's got a few plays to improve on. So he gets an A-.
RB: Roy Helu and Rex Burkhead didn't get a lot of carries because the yardage came in bunches against Kansas State. Both backs showed that you key on Martinez at your own peril; Helu's 68 yard touchdown was testament to that. Grade: A
WR: If you look at the stats sheet, it was a quiet night for the receivers, but ESPN made a point of showing the downfield blocking the receivers did to clear the field for Martinez and Helu. These guys deserve a lot of credit for making those long touchdowns look so easy. Grade: A
OL: If the receivers deserve credit for blocking downfield, the line gets the credit for springing the running game up front. Grade: A
DL: Nebraska played a little bit of rope-a-dope against Kansas State, expecting the Wildcats to throw some new wrinkles early on. Once the Huskers understood the game plan the Wildcats were going to try and execute, they made sure that Kansas State wasn't going to break anything long. And after the first couple of drives, the line adjusted and shut down the Wildcat offense until the game was essentially over. Grade: B+
LB: Lavonte David had another huge week on the stat sheets, but this week, it was because he was doing the right things instead of recovering from mistakes. A lack of faith in Eric Martin and Alonzo Whaley meant that Nebraska spend much of the game in dime defense. While Dejon Gomes was second on the team in tackles, it mean that Kansas State was having some success rushing early. Support from the rest of the secondary helpd later in the game. Grade: B+
Secondary: Kansas State didn't try to attack the Nebraska secondary for obvious reasons; it's not their strength, but it's the strength of the Blackshirts. As the game progressed, the secondary creeped up on run support, and aside from a few quarterback keepers, the Wildcat offense was effectively neutered. Grade: B+
Overall: A- A solid performance, that left you satisfied, but realizing that this team can play even better.
Elsewhere in College Football
Missouri vs. Colorado: Both squads underwhelmed in a, well, rather ugly football game. Both offenses looked rather inept. Missouri can take some satisfaction in a shutout, but remember, it was against Colorado. And Colorado looks like the same old Colorado we've learned to love, including the tag team of bad quarterbacks Tyler Hansen and Cody Hawkins. D+
Iowa State: 68 points to Utah? F
Penn State: JoePa loses to the Zooker? F
South Carolina: Yeah, you caught 'Bama napping after a big win the week before. But still, the 'ol Ball Coach has something nice brewing. A+
Miami: Didn't you used to be a Top Ten team? F